Government will not be the side to step back from the resolution process: Turkish PM
ŞIRNAK - Anadolu Agency
The airport in southeastern Şırnak has been named after the iconic Kurdish politician Şerafettin Elçi, who passed away last December. AA photoThe government will not be the side that will step back from the ongoing Kurdish resolution process, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assured July 26 during the opening ceremony of the newly finished airport in the southeastern province of Şırnak.
"We will by no means be the side that will give up on the resolution process or sabotage it. The side that disrupts or sabotages the process, or raises difficulties [in its course] will be committing a big sin," Erdoğan told a crowd gathered at the new airport, named after the iconic Kurdish politician Şerafettin Elçi, who passed away last December.
The prime minister criticized the opposition parties for not participating in the process, adding that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was not seeking political goals or interests from the process.
"The purpose of the resolution process is to stop the deaths of our youths. People can now go to villages and hamlets abandoned for years. There is an ongoing spring that has been longed for in the region for years," he said.
'Elçi will be never forgotten'
Erdoğan also defended the decision to name the airport in tribute to Elçi, a former public works minister at the end of the 1970s for the then-Republican People's Party (CHP) government. He was born in the town of Cizre, which lies 10 kilometers from the facility.
Elçi is known for having broken a taboo on the Kurdish issue when he said, "There are Kurds in Turkey and I am a Kurd." He was sentenced after the 1980 coup for this statement.
The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli had lashed out against the AKP for the selection of the name, describing Elçi as a separatist, whose recent funeral saw Kurdish flags opened.
Erdoğan, however, insisted that Elçi had been a politician who "gave a struggle" his whole life. "He will never be forgotten for his sincerity," he said.
He also criticized attempts to disrupt the construction of the airport, which started two years ago. "While we're serving this region, there have been some who have tried to obstruct us. Our workers were threatened or abducted. The construction equipment was burned. Some asked us for a 10 percent commission," Erdoğan said, adding that similar things are happening in the ongoing construction of the Hakkari-Yüksekova airport, near the Iranian and Iraqi borders.
'Don't be played by the Syrian regime'
In the address, Erdoğan also touched on the recent clashes between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the al-Nusra Front near the Turkish border. He said that "fait accomplis" would provoke more clashes, implicitly referring to an eventual declaration of autonomy by Kurdish groups in northern Syria. "Don't be played by the Syria's regime's plot to put different [players] against each other," he warned.
Şırnak's airport is the third airport opened by Erdoğan in three weeks, after airports in Kastamonu and Bingöl. The visit came at a time when the government is under pressure to secure reforms in order to start the third phase of the resolution process, which was launched seven months ago.